Written by: A Muslim
Magicians had been gathered by the Pharoah's command from all over his kingdom so they could contest against Hadhrat Musa علیہ السلام who had the miraculous staff. There are said to be seventy or nine hundred or even as many as three hundred thousand magicians who had been called for the purpose. On the day of the contest, they were first to throw their staffs and ropes, and to the onlookers they seemed to be like snakes leaping all over the ground. When Hadhrat Musa علیہ السلام threw his staff down, by Allah's command, it turned into a serpent that began devouring the snakes the magicians had concocted, and none of their snakes was left to be seen. There was no sign whatsoever of their magic, and there was no doubt in the hearts of those expert sorcerers that what Hadhrat Musa علیہ السلام had just done was not magic. They instantly recognized this was a sign sent by none other than the Lord of the worlds, and fell into prostration. So forceful was their Iman that they didn't think even once about the tyrant king, the Pharoah. They said, "We believe in the Lord of the worlds, the Lord of Musa and Harun."
The Egyptian people were also watching as the situation took a completely unexpected turn. In Surah Ta Ha, Allah states that Firoun said, "You have believed in him before I permit you. He is in fact your master who has taught you the magic. So I will certainly cut off your hands and legs from opposite sides, and will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and you shall know whose punishment, out of us, is more severe and more lasting." He actually wanted to punish them for their Iman in a way they would (naudhu billah) see that his punishment was worse and more long lasting than Allah's.
But far from having any sort of fear, the magicians replied that Firoun could decide whatever he wanted to decide, they would never prefer him over the clear signs that came to them, they would never prefer him to Allah who created them. They clearly added, "You will decide only for this worldly life. We have put our faith in our Lord, so that He forgives us for our sins and for the magic you compelled us to perform. And Allah is the Best and Everlasting."
This incident in the Qur'an really makes a Muslim marvel not only at how instantly these magicians recognized the true faith, accepted it and declared it before one of the haughtiest and cruelest kings ever, but also at the intensity and strength of this Iman that had just then lodged itself within their hearts. Instead of asking Firoun for any type of leniency or mercy, instead of asking Hadhrat Musa علیہ السلام to pray to Allah to save them from what Firoun intended to do to them, they boldly told Firoun to do whatever he wanted to do to them. They had the understanding that whatever he inflicted upon them would end with this temporary worldly life of theirs, and then they would return to the Lord they believed in from the inner-most cores of their hearts. It was a great object for them to be granted Allah's forgiveness. Their one preference was Allah.
In the tafseer of Surah Al-A'raf, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi رحمہ اللہ writes:
The belief in Allah, or 'Iman' as it is called by the Qur'an, is a great power. When it finds its way into one's heart, one finds himself so powerful as to face the whole world and all the forces gathered together against him. This was a great change. Only a few hours ago, the sorcerers were the worshippers of Pharoah, but having faith in Allah they demonstrated such a great power and courage that in response to all the threats to their lives by the Pharoah, they only said with perfect satisfaction that, in that case, "To our Lord we are sure to return."
Subhan Allah, this instantaneous transformation of the magicians is something for us Muslims to learn from. They were ready to sacrifice everything for their Iman, it meant everything to them. It was what filled them with bravery and strength in the face of such a hostile enemy. This Iman is something we need to worry about and to work on. In the end, we all return to Allah, and the state we return in should be the state of Iman. There are so many things we strive for in life. We spend years gaining some sort of skill or decades studying so that we can reap the fruit of these efforts, in the form of a promising career or a comfortable living during this life. Iman is the essential requirement for the after-life. Let's decide today to try to learn ways to build our Iman. Let's keep supplicating to Allah for strengthening it and enabling us to die with Iman shining in our hearts. Death is not the end. It's only the beginning of the real life of the Aakhirah, where Allah will lavishly reward those who had Iman and performed good deeds. The magicians' good deed was their standing up to the oppressive Firoun. By Allah's Mercy, they were able to do so by the sheer strength of their Iman. The sins and disbelief of their previous lives or state were completely washed away by this. They had preferred Allah and Allah Ta'ala will surely reward them for all this. Allah سبحانہ وتعالی says:
And whoever will come to Him as a believer, having done righteous deeds, for such people there are the highest ranks, the eternal gardens beneath which rivers flow, in which they shall live forever. That is the reward of the one who has purified himself.
(Surah Ta Ha: verses 75, 76)
A powerful Iman is something we need to beseech Allah for.